Dr. Ted Wiard (copy)

Ted Wiard

This weekly column seeks to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a future article for others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.

On Dec. 7, 1941, a minimum of 2403 people lost their lives after a surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This led to the United States entering World War II.

This historical moment was also the beginning of Project Y, established by the Manhattan Project operated by the University of California, Berkeley, which radically transformed a tiny location in New Mexico into Los Alamos. World War II was a strange and scary time in which the entire world had to change and learn new ways of short-term survival in order to improve long-term quality of life. Looking back into our past and gleaning the information is critical to glean wisdom and honor, where the wisdom came from as well as the price (loss) that took place in order to utilize wisdom today.

Science continues to be an epicenter for gathering an intellectual foundation of facts in order to have wisdom and discernment in decision-making. History helps us with protection, spirituality, health, safety and our future. The world finds itself in a strangely similar situation with the COVID-19 pandemic in which many traditions and ways of everyday life are challenged. A grief process from loss of life, freedoms, safety and many other factors are felt daily. It is almost like our world has been put in a plaster cast which is getting really itchy, exhausted and irritating. Emotional muscles have atrophied, and inhibitors – patience and discernment – have weakened. In this exhausting and difficult time, people are being asked to find the stamina and strength while caught in a COVID holding pattern. Rituals and traditions have been hijacked, deaths and illness are increasing, while the pressure of the plaster cast is suffocating.

Historical stories such as the story of Pearl Harbor, Chanukah, Christmas and many other memorable events demonstrate hope and resilience to move through dire times and come out the other side, with new wisdom and, hopefully, more compassion for the human dilemma – pain and sorrow as well as joy and happiness.

In the grief process it is important to lean away from denial and claim the facts that are being presented. Times have changed and COVID-19 is deathly. Neglecting this fact is dangerous for everyone, individuals, loved ones, family and community. As COVID-19 has attacked the world, it is time to move from a level of denial, anger, bargaining and depression, toward levels of acceptance and relocation.

There is a demand for people to find ways to do things differently than before, reestablish rituals and ceremonies as a daily practice, as well as during the holidays. Establishing new ways of being is what happened on Dec. 7, 1941, and from those changes there were new opportunities, new norms and hopefully, quality of life was regained.

Now is the time to be willing to sacrifice certain ways of being and have long-term rewards, rather than short-term gratification. If, as a society, we can find new ways to navigate the present with different ways of autonomy we can work towards worldly health and healing. When autonomy feels lost or taken, each of us can find new ways to rebuild autonomy that serves the larger goal of safety and love for all. Please gift the world by finding rituals and ceremonies this year that may be different but will gift your loved ones and community with health and life.

I wish you well. Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Dr. Ted Wiard, EdD, LPCC, CGC, Founder of Golden Willow Retreat GWR@newmex.com

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